THE ADVENTURE BEGINS...
4 Yrs Old
Denny & Rich 1951
The 4 Moores Dec '62
4 Yrs Old
(click images to play slide shows, enlarge views)
On September 13, 1943, Rich arrived in this world and rounded out the Moore Clan of parents Keith and Alla Lora (Adams) Moore, and brother Denny.
When just a little guy, the family pulled up stakes and landed in Albuquerque, New Mexico during a time when the city was a town and Rich could call the mesas his back yard.
Brother Denny remembered, "Richard was born in California in the city of North Hollywood in 1943. Dad was a banker at Bank of America and Mom was a telegraph operator for the same bank.
"We lived in California until it was discovered that our mother suffered severely from asthma, so we moved to New Mexico. Dad found work at a large ranch, The Simms Ranch, as foreman. He stayed there for about one year until a banking job opened up at the First National Bank of Albuquerque."
In a letter to Richard, Denny's story continued: "One of my memories was our first Christmas in Albuquerque. We had moved from California and had to live in a motel. It had dirt floors and our Christmas present was a bow and arrow. I think they cost 35 cents and was all Mom and Dad could afford.
"I remember our many hunting and fishing trips with Dad in New Mexico, Colorado, and Nebraska when we were growing up. You always excelled at shooting and won at many competitions. I remember the many pictures we had of our mom and her beautiful rose gardens. She loved all plants, but roses were her favorite and we had lots of roses in the garden and the house."
BECOMING A DENTIST...
Education was his thing, and because knowledge came easy to him (and the classroom could bore him) he would place his restless energy into complicated practical jokes. Hilarious stuff to his friends. However, not-so-hilarious as far as his teachers or school administrators were concerned. They just didn't get the genius behind those elaborate pranks. Because of his prankster prowess, he was invariably tagged as the likely culprit behind any and all mischief. A well earned reputation, but he couldn't claim responsibility for every misdeed!
There was one particular teacher of whom he spoke fondly over the years: His chemistry professor, Sister Rosalee Urzandowski. Sister pushed his scientific intellect to the limits and he rose to the challenge. When he completed his studies with her, she pressed him to pursue a doctorate in Chemistry at the University of Notre Dame. But he had set his sights on becoming a dentist and turned down her offer to open doors. Instead, Rich enrolled in The Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas, Texas and earned his DDS in 1972, graduating 6th in his class and in the top 10% of the nation.
To make his dream of earning a DDS a reality, he came up with various schemes to raise tuition money. He worked as a board-marker at a local financial institution, updating traders with 'real-time' stock prices (pre-digital, folks... those ticker results had to be scrawled on a blackboard). He would restore then sell a classic car or two (a hobby that followed him throughout his life). He worked on custom cutting wheat harvest and swimming pool construction crews. He even worked as a waiter in a hotel dining room. His eyes were set on the prize.
That DDS degree and the dental profession defined him and he was an evangelist of the dental arts to any who would listen. Over the years he served in the Public Health Service, helped to found the University of Colorado School of Dentistry, encouraged the University of Montana to establish a formal pre-dental curriculum, assisted young students in finding their calling in dentistry, provided pre-deployment care for the Montana Army National Guard, and worked with several tribal entities and the Indian Health Service up and down the Rocky Mountain chain providing care and expanding dental clinics to improve access to and quality of care.
Richard loved his profession and adored his patients, especially children and adults with special needs. They were his favorites.
Just Runnin' Against The Wind
Rich's sense of adventure knew very few (if there were any) bounds. When he was young (and a bit foolish) he gave rodeo a whirl. Including bull riding. On his first - and last - bull ride, he drew "Buttermilk" (a deceiving name for one very pissed off bovine). When asked how long he lasted on Buttermilk, he replied two, maybe three seconds. Then added with a grin, "But that could be an exaggeration." No more bulls after Buttermilk. He wisely stuck with team roping.
Fast cars and fast dirt bikes were more his style, though. He had a passion for classic Corvettes, Porsches, and Husqvarna bikes. Aw, heck... he had a passion for anything with a combustion engine, wheels, and speed. We've tried to tally the number of cars and bikes he owned over his lifetime, and let's just say the number is, well, a lot. Collecting, restoring, selling. Then doing it again. There was always something in some state of restoration taking up space in his garage.
Competition was in his blood, and that definitely applied to driving. During the 1980s he got onto the Baja 500 circuit racing a Jeep Honchos for the Coors and BF Goodrich teams. More than 30 years later he learned that he and his brother-in-law, Gary Mongrain, had both been on the same racing circuit, during the same years, knew the same people, yet had never met. That is, until Rich married Denise Mongrain years later.
Rich was also highly competitive when it came to shooting sports, winning championships throughout the western region in skeet, trap, and (his favorite) sporting clays. Somewhere in his basement are boxes and boxes of dusty trophies and plaques, each with a story behind it. He was known for his quick, almost from-the-hip shooting style and the fun and humor he brought to every tournament.
His years in Durango Colorado brought out his inner daredevil and his wild side really shone through during his pro-patrol days at Purgatory Ski Resort. Doc "Rocket" Moore logged who-knows-how-many hours on his trusty 'Panther' snowmobile helping injured skiers and taking on the drunk and belligerent ones.
Rich loved sharing his passion for the outdoors, even when talked into the favors of guiding 'friends of friends' on hunting or fishing trips. But there was more than one occasion when a friend's friend put themselves and Rich in stupid crazy danger.
It's a toss-up on which of the following was the worst: When a fellow hunter rolled his horse off a trail down a shale mountainside, or when a duck hunter shot him. The horse episode resulted in Rich having to administer first aid to the rider and then scramble down to coax an angry and stubborn horse up a steep slope of moving rock.
But then, there was that duck hunt (with an "experienced" hunter). Everyone in the party took their shots at the birds as they flew overhead. This one guy, though, was overly excited about having winged a duck and as the bird was flailing in the water, he swung his gun full around to take another shot. In the direction of Rich. Before Rich could react, the shotgun went off, blasting the collar off his down vest and peppering his face with shot. He lived the rest of his days with buckshot behind his right eye, another above the eye. And a bit of a grudge.
Richard always knew that he was watched over and protected throughout his life. His guardian angel stayed busy through way too many close calls in his younger, more adventurous years. And in his later years, he had his angel - and doctors - working overtime in ERs and ICUs. He ran through a heck of a lot more than his allotted nine lives. Lots more. It would seem that his fearlessness and passion for life kept him going. And going. And going...
ALONG COMES DENISE...
Christmas slippers 2013
When Rich was a little kid, he'd read a book about Montana. In later years he couldn't recall the title of the book, but it caused him to fall in love with the idea of the Northern Rockies. He told his mom that someday Montana would become his home.
Fast forward to the late 1990s, and he finally made good on that claim. Two years after Denise and Rich married, they upped and moved to Missoula Montana where they settled into the best years of their lives.
Which brings this story around to Denise. Those two met within weeks after she had relo'd to Denver for work. Needing emergency dental work, she was referred to Rich's office by one of her employees (with enthusiasm). Rich was fascinated by this little 5'1" dynamo that laughed at everything he said. Denise was impressed by his gregarious and adventurous nature. They struck up an immediate friendship.
Intrigued by this interesting guy, Denise eventually asked him out. He made some lame excuse about not dating a patient, so she promptly fired him. It took him a bit to get over the shock (and to stop laughing). It wasn't long before they became inseparable.
One year and one day after they'd met, Denise proposed. After he got over THAT shock, he said okay. And that was that.
Together they wandered the rivers and high mountain lakes of Colorado and Montana in search of remote and productive trout waters. The sport of fly fishing was such a big part of their life together that their honeymoon was planned around a four-wheeling off-road trek over Colorado's Engineer Pass as they explored and fished their way through fourteener backcountry.
MEET ME IN MONTANA...
Rock Creek with Griz
ESGR Boss Lift w/SSG Sprenger
Rock Creek with Griz
In 1998, Rich and Denise decided to act on his lifelong dream of becoming a Montanan. He told her he'd always wanted to live there and asked if she wanted to give it a try. She quickly replied, "Why not?" and told him she'd always loved Montana, too. And, oh by the way, she had family roots there.
So, they packed up their fly gear (and other worldly possessions) and moved to Missoula. Rich became even more enthralled with his new home state when it sunk in that his wife's Montana heritage went back five generations to the late 1860s.
There was something about Missoula that made it easy for them to immediately launch into the heart of community involvement. From helping to raise money to build the baseball park and the Ronald McDonald House, to supporting Denise's political activism, to being active with the Grizzly Scholarship Association at the University of Montana and establishing an endowment at UM that benefited the building of the Student Athlete Academic Center, to volunteering at festivals and community events and for the Montana ESGR (Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve)... He was happiest when he found ways to contribute.
Rich was especially proud of his Irish heritage and was an early promoter of the newly created Irish Studies Program at UM. In 2008, the Phil Maloney Division of the Ancient Order of the Hibernians bestowed upon him the honor of "Irish Man of the Year." He treasured that tribute.
THOSE WHO HAVE GONE BEFORE...
Keith & Allie Moore - ca. late '30s
Allie & Keith Moore
Keith & Allie Moore 1937
Keith & Allie Moore - ca. late '30s
Keith & Allie Moore
Rich, Denise & Meg
Rich & Gary Finkas
Anne with Ray visiting us in Telluride
Rich, Denise & Meg
Meg Mongrain, Gary Finkas, Gary Mongrain, Anne Mongrain
Those who passed before Richard and whom he loved and missed so dearly are his parents, Keith and Alla Lora. They gave him not only the gift of an interesting life, but an intense love for the outdoors and backroad adventures, a deep abiding faith in God, encouragement in following his dreams, and extraordinary examples of character, generosity, and loyalty.
...Oh, and the gift of a big personality. A really big personality! Rich's stories of the Moore Family adventures were a reminder of how deeply he loved and missed them.
Rich was also preceded by his mother-in-law Meg Mongrain. Those two could spend hours laughing and talking politics over a healthy glass of Makers Mark. Or two.
His brothers-in-law, Gary Finkas (Marcia) and Gary Mongrain (Betsy) also passed before him. And only a short time before Richard left us, sister-in-law Anne (Ray) passed away unexpectedly. The loss of the two Gary's affected him deeply, but he never learned about losing Anne. There was a rare and special bond among all of them that Rich enjoyed so much.
HE LEFT BEHIND...
Aubrey, Shannon, Ryan, Rich (& Keisha)
Denny & Rich
Esperanza & Lucia
Aubrey, Shannon, Ryan, Rich (& Keisha)
Rich is survived by his wife, soulmate, fishing buddy, hunting pal, golf partner, and best friend of more than 25 years, Denise. Borrowing from one of Rich's favorite movies, Tombstone, he loved to quote, "Up or down, thin or flush, they never left each other's side."
He was proud father of his children from previous marriages: Shannon (Mike) Zuffoletto, Ryan Moore, Aubrey (Joey) Ashenbrenner, and grandfather (aka "Oso") to Esperanza and Lucia. He burst with pride over his kids and their accomplishments; he encouraged them to embrace life fearlessly and chase down their dreams. Just like he did.
He is also survived by big brother Denny Moore, his wife Norma, and nephews Richard Moore, Sean (Melanie) Moore, and Dennis Moore. Rich's love for his brother ran deep and especially in later years he enjoyed reminiscences of their childhood adventures and the specialness that was "The Four Moores."
Rich leaves behind crowd of brothers- and sisters-in-law on the Mongrain side of the family: Raymond Mongrain, Chris (Sandra) Mongrain, Michele (Jerry) Uplinger, Marcia Mongrain-Finkas, Nicole Mongrain, and Betsy (Kurt Chilcot) Mongrain. And numerous nieces and nephews and their children (with several more arriving soon!): Jill (Mike) Fausner; Catlin (Hector) Zuniga, Cheri (Dan) Portman, Greg Mongrain, Eric Mongrain, Lauren (Frank) Magnuson, Katie (Peter) Seeley, Heather (Bryan) Foster, Hannah (Adam) Ganders, and Hayley (Wyant) Gardner.
In Dad's Honor...
To commemorate his father and the extraordinary
life that he lived, Ryan used the words of Theodore
Roosevelt to create this special homage to Rich's
memory (click image to enlarge):
A MESSAGE OF THANKS TO HIS CARE TEAM...
during the time of COVID
We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Kyle Smith of Providence Neurological Associates for his remarkable diagnostic skill and compassionate support; Kathy Towers, DPT with Providence Physical Therapy for her endless humor and tireless patience; Hospice of Missoula (and especially Melissa Jordan, ANP) for helping Rich make the transition to his next life with comfort, dignity, and grace; Home Instead for providing respite for Denise with kindness and attention during his last few weeks; and the amazing team at Providence St Patrick Hospital who provided him with kind medical attention and companionship with humor during his last days when, because of COVID, no others could be at his side.
AND, A PERSONAL NOTE OF GRATITUDE FROM DENISE...
Thank you, Moores and Mongrains, for the unwavering and sustaining emotional support that you gave to both of us over the last eight years of Richard's struggles. COVID restrictions in 2020 made it impossible for nearly all to see him one last time, but he knew and I knew you were all with us in spirit. And we were (and are) eternally grateful for your prayers, phone calls, and messages of love. Your strength became our strength.
FOR MY "WORK FAMILY":
I could never express enough gratitude to my First Montana Bank family - from co-workers to the Board of Directors. You gave Richard and me the precious gift of time together. You provided me with every tool I could possibly need to work from home so that I could be his constant caregiver. You provided us with much-needed words of encouragement and volunteered to make last-minute grocery and pharmacy runs on a moment's notice. It seemed like no one at the bank could do enough to offer a helping and compassionate hand. Richard was grateful. As am I.
FOR OUR NEIGHBORS:
Finally, to our dear neighbors who loved Richard through all of his challenges, volunteered to sit and visit with him, and would drop in to do special little things for us. You brought brief moments of absolute joy to his eyes and broad smiles to his face; for all this and more, thank you. Special and heartfelt thanks go to Kathy and George Roth, Maxine and Rex Williams, Melissa and Reed Mooney... Thank you, thank you, thank you!